bye to cambodia, and hi to vietnam!
today we caught the fast boat from phnom penh, down the mekong river to châu dóc, a small city on the river where we are spending a night in a hotel before joining the slow boat for the trip on to ho chi min city (HCMC).
as toad of toad hall famously said, “there is nothing half so much fun as simply messing about in boats!”, its such a pleasant way to travel, cool breeze, no bumps, great scenery as you cruise down the river, comfortable chairs, more leg space than a plane and you can sit outside.
also border crossings are so much more civilised, we pulled into a jetty and disembarked to clear out of cambodia, left our luggage on board, a couple of minutes later and our passports were stamped, we bought a cold beer from the girl on the jetty and jumped back on the boat.
exactly 1 beer later and we pulled into the jetty at the vietnamese border, someone took all our passports, we sat around and had another beer, climbed back on the boat and the same someone gave us all our passports back, stamped and we were officially in vietnam!
the whole trip took about 5 hours and we pulled in to châu dóc just before sunset, someone said to us our hotel was “50m that way and then turn left and its on your right down that street”. after following those directions and finding nothing resembling a hotel we asked some locals eating their dinner where the hotel was and despite their lack of english and our total absence of vietnamese, they took us to the door.
we had no sooner let ourselves in the room than the tour operator from ho chi minh that I had booked the boat trips through rang us to check we had arrived ok, and then told us the arrangements for our transfer by car to the slow boat in the morning.
it never ceases to amaze me how these things all just seem to fall into place, considering this was all organised at the last minute via email with someone in HCMC and it relied on a tuk tuk picking us up from our hotel in phnom penh, dropping us at the ferry terminal, somehow someone knowing which boat we were meant to go on from the 4 tied up at the wharf, getting us on the right boat, across two borders and into a hotel in the back streets of a wild river town – all with minimal language in common and none of the people involved working directly for the company organising the trip who were in a city hundreds of km’s away.
the internet has certainly transformed travel beyond belief in the last 10 years!
so of course the order of the day was to get straight out on the streets and find some nice local food, we walked 50m up the street from the hotel and there were just acres of street carts making fresh vietnamese meals, hundreds of people perched on the ubiquitous plastic stools at a shonky plastic table woofing down great fresh food.
sal saw a noodle dish being taken to a table and so pointed to that to choose a dish, i managed to get the girl serving to pick something off the menu for me – which turned out to be beef with chilli and lemongrass, and kai ended up with shredded chicken and fried rice – not quite what he wanted but he ate it with gusto! sal’s turned out to be noodles with prawns and squid and a top choice!
sal’s squid and prawns with noodles
my very spicy beef dish
the stall we got dinner from
click on ‘i’ in top left corner of images for caption.